Last Minute Issues and Recommendations
Last Minute Issues and Recommendations

If you are reading this article you are probably approaching the submission of your thesis and these are a few last minute issues and recommendations that you may face. If you find yourself nervous: do not be. If you reach this stage you have been through a long journey and you deserve to graduate!

Before submitting your thesis:

Double check the rules and procedures for submitting your thesis with the proper “center of control”; each university is different but good candidates are the student office, the thesis coordinator or your supervisor. Once you have them, be rigorous in follow them as they are mostly checked and enforced by non-academic stuff.

Check your thesis for plagiarism. These are possible free resources that you can use for that:


The university has more sophisticated tools for this task and they also check your thesis against all the theses of the university as well as ones released in open access. Note that these tools can give a lot of false positives. So do not panic if this happen. Line of code, references and quotations are usually marked and ignored as is perfectly normal. On the other hand, you should worry if an entire page is flagged.

After submitting the thesis

Congratulations! It is done. There is only one remaining step: concentrate on the defense of your thesis. In particular you want to focus on the practical aspects, as well as the human aspect of this phase.

If your program requires a second reader, get in touch with him or her in person. Here you can find some practical ways without been intrusive:

  • Try to meet him/her in person with the excuse of delivering a paper copy of the thesis. Dress appropriately, be nice, smile and spend 3 minutes with your second reader if they are not too busy. Close the conversation with something like “I am looking forward to meeting you at the defense and do not hesitate to contact me in case something is unclear”.
  • Follow up with an email addressed to the second reader and your supervisor in CC. You want to attach both PDF and .doc version of the final thesis. If the date of the defense is already scheduled, include the date and conclude the message with something similar to the previous point.
  • In the case you had an external supervisor verify if he will be present at your defense and, if that is the case, inform both your supervisor and your second reader.
  • Avoid to putting pressure to your second reader and try to be open regarding the possible date for your final defense. After all, if you reach this stage your supervisor is pretty much on board with your graduation and the second reader is the person that may still require some convincing.

Prepare yourself for the defense:

Let’s consider the case where your defense will be 30 minutes with the possibility to give an open statement of 5 minutes. These, at present, are the rules at my university, they are relatively common but you want to check with your supervisor your particular case.

Prepare a 6 slide (approximately) presentation and rehearse it a few times. A possible outline could be like the following:

  1. Your name, title of the thesis, your supervisor, logo of the company where you did the internship and so on.
  2. What is your thesis about from a bird eye view.
  3. How this problem has been tackle in literature and what you survey in your thesis.
  4. Your research question(s) and methodology that you adopted in the thesis.
  5. Results and findings of your research.
  6. Conclusions.

If you have 5 minutes opening statement it is very important that:

  • You have it ready in your laptop
  • You stick to the time with maximum precision
  • You are aware that you will never manage to tell everything that you did in your thesis. So, summarize and ensure that the story-line of the presentation is coherent.
  • Avoid long text in the slides and instead use images; if possible, re-use images that are in your thesis.
  • Do not try to impress the audience with “something new” but limit yourself to presenting the content of the thesis.

this bullet list is just a succinct summary of golden rules for your opening statement. There is much more to say about presenting your work and in this post you can find some tips and suggestions for sharpening your presentation skills. Once your opening statement is done, get ready for the questions. Remember, a defense is not an exam, the majority of the questions that you are going to receive are curiosities of the professors and opportunities for giving a few details of what you have done.

Try to be confident in answering (after-all, if you reach this stage you deserve it!) but do not present yourself overconfident as well. Search for a sweet spot between been confident, respectful and humble.

These are a few tips for dealing with last minute issues and recommendations. Do not be nervous and enjoy the well deserved result that you are about to obtain.

Congratulation for reaching this final phase of your journey towards your graduation! Be proud of what you did and good luck with the defense!

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This article (Commencing the end game: Last Minute Issues and Recommendations) is part of the miniseries on how to do a good thesis, you can see the full list of post at the following links:

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